Post details: Load-Bearing Walls


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Load-Bearing Walls

Read these words of wisdom before you start to move a load-bearing wall.

Load-Bearing WallsQ. I'm considering moving the wall between my kitchen and dining room. How do I determine whether this is a load-bearing wall? If it is, what do I have to do to maintain my home's structural integrity?

A. The main clue about whether the wall is bearing -- which means it helps bear the weight of the roof or the floor above -- will be found under the wall itself, says Mike Sloggatt, a general contractor in Long Island, New York. Look at the basement ceiling for a wall or beam running along the same line as the wall upstairs. "The presence of a supporting wall below usually indicates the wall above will also be bearing," Sloggatt says. The weight of the ceiling transfers downward from one wall to the one beneath, and then to the ground. If your home is on a slab, you can look in the attic to see whether structural members -- ceiling joists, beams, or rafters -- are supported by the wall in question.

Removing a load-bearing wall is not a DIY project. Any time you change the structure of your house, you should consult an engineer or architect, Sloggatt says. "They will calculate the load of the floor or ceiling above the wall and determine how to remove the wall safely," he says. Structural changes to your house will likely require a city or county building permit.

Better Homes and Gardens



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